Wednesday, September 29, 2010

EXP Podcast #97: Language Lessons

Warning: This podcast contains more adult language than usual. This podcast might be NSFW all thanks to Austin Ivansmith, who recently wrote an interesting article on swearing in videogames. Join us this week while Scott and I discuss the ethics of curse word construction, artistic integrity and avoiding offensive language, and the types of games that just might pull off an "F Bomb" with aplomb. As always, you can find the original article in the show notes below. We also encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comments section and let us know what you think.

Some discussion starters:

- Can language be just as stylized as violence, and therefor be more acceptable?
- Is adding "bad language" toggle option an artistic betrayal or a helpful feature?
- What games include good use of adult language and which do not?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 26 hr 2 min 24 sec
- "Why all the swearing?," by Austin Ivansmith via Carrot v Stick
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. I'm surprised you guys didn't mention Brutal Legend in the discussion of the toggle switch for swearing (as well as violence). The introductory cutscene provides the toggle exactly before the first ever swear word. It not only gives you the toggle but is presented in a way that is consistent with the style of the writing for the game and feels considered as well. The pause at that moment itself is used for comedic effect.

    The effect of bleeping out the swear words should you select the toggle does not disrupt the stylistic effects of swearing in Brutal Legend, it instead presents it in a more obvious way whilst still providing a level of protection for those who need it. The same can be said for the gore toggle as well. The game itself provides a great example of consistent and appropriate use of swearing in the game which I can because I never actually noticed it at any point (unlike Gears of War where it stands out in how it is used).

    If you haven't played Brutal Legend I remember that the demo for the game included this opening sequence.

    Thanks again for another cool podcast (you guys have been on roll recently)

  2. When you briefly covered multiplayer games, I was reminded of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, specifically how it contrasted with something like Modern Warfare 2 (which, as you may recall, it actively antagonized on the marketing front).

    Modern Warfare has a very "by-the-book" style when in comes to dialogue, with even multiplayer characters using terse, simple phrases like "charge planted" and "tango down." Bad Company, on the other hand, puts a lot of emotion behind their multiplayer characters, with such gems as "we gotta disarm that fuckin' charge!" or simply "FUCK!" when one is shot.

    This Battlefield tone can be interpreted a couple of ways. On one hand, it's over the top, vulgar, and certainly doesn't paint the rosiest picture of the military. On the other hand, it gives a sense of drama and urgency to non-story combat, and is quite possibly more realistic (said the internet commenter with no military service experience).

    I just thought this was an interesting crossover between singleplayer and multiplayer dialogue that was worth mentioning.

  3. Hey Gerard!

    Now that you mention it, I remember being really impressed by the exact moment in the Brutal Legend demo. It was a great way of giving the player options while integrating them into the game. Nice catch!

    Now that all the hubub has died down, I find myself wanting to go back and play that game...

    Hi Isaac, thanks for stopping by!

    I wasn't aware of the difference between the MW and Battlefield dialogue; thanks for pointing it out. In your experience, do you think this has influenced player behavior? For example, are players more vulgar on mic when operating in a game with more casual swearing?

  4. NOOOOO! I just wrote such a nice, lengthy comment and it got swallowed by the Google Profile Login. ;_(

    Ok, here is are the juicy bits:

    There are some funny instances of profanity filter having bizarre effects in Monster Hunter Tri.

    The German word "Schwanz" is actually neutral and simply means "Tail". In some instances, depending on context in can be used as a profanity, meaning "Dick". In Monster Hunter Tri you sometimes need to cut off the tails of the monsters but the game will censor the use of the word "Schwanz". So it basically automatically turns even the neutral use of the word into a curse word: "Distract him while I cut off his §#*%&!"

    Another example is that the word "After" is also being censored which makes normal conversations very difficult: "I need to log out §#*%& this mission". "You go first, I'll go §#*%& you". "Let's capture him §#*%& we cut off his §#*%&".

  5. Krystian,

    I had no idea about that Monster Hunter stuff!

    It sounds simultaneously frustrating and hilarious.